Learn how to make this heart warming vegan Jamaican red pea soup consisting of kidney beans simmered down in coconut with root vegetables and spices.
When it comes to Caribbean food, most people think of the main entrees and fail to acknowledge our wonderful soups. Soup is big business in the Caribbean especially on Saturdays where it’s customary. Red pea soup is full of flavour and most importantly my version is meat free/ital – great for vegans but meat eaters will fall in love with it too.
What is red pea soup?
In short red pea soup is a soup made from red kidney beans (known as red peas). The peas (usually dried) are rinsed and left to soak overnight. Then brought to a boil, simmered with herbs/spices and root vegetables.
The majority of Jamaican red pea soup recipes are made with meat – pigtails and/or stewing beef is the preferred choice. When my family made this soup as non pork eaters, we would omit the pork, in fact we didn’t really use much meat at all.
Sometimes we would add beef and other times it was shredded chicken.
I supposed you could describe this as a red kidney bean soup, if you really wanted to.
Like most recipes, each individual likes to have their own spin on things. Another go to Jamaican Ital vegan recipe I adore is this Jamaican gungo peas soup (pigeon pea soup). you can make it with vegetable stock for added flavour
How to make red pea soup
Red pea soup isn’t very difficult to make and doesn’t need any meat to make it flavoursome. I have however added extra garlic, a hint of ginger and black pepper for more flavour which isn’t typically done so there is more than enough herbs, spices and root vegetables to constitute the missing beef and pigtail.
Soaking the beans – dried beans need to be soaked prior to boiling. Rinse the beans several times to rid the debris/dirt. Then soak them in enough water to cover them overnight or for several hours.
Boiling the beans – the beans need to be boiled and cooked until tender. The beans should take around 50 minutes – 1hour to cook. A good way to determine its readiness is to spoon a few beans, cool them off and squash them with your fingers.
If they mash quite easily, then they are ready and cooked thoroughly.
Adding the vegetables + dumpling – I don’t like to go to crazy with the carbohydrates – some sweet potatoes and yam are more than enough carbs to yield a filling soup recipe. The vegetables should be added near towards the end of the cooking around 20-15 minutes before to ensure they don’t boil out.
Coconut cream – For this Ital soup I like to use coconut cream which some many know more globally as coconut manna. If you cannot get hold of coconut cream simply used 1/2 cup of coconut milk instead
Boiled dumpling – While the peas are cooking, I would advise making the dumplings so they are ready to add the pot. You can roll them into spinners or disc shapes. I like to make both variations for most of my soup blends using gluten free flour.
Thickening the soup
I like to tweak the recipe by doing something different, I’m partial to taking out 1/2 cup of beans and mashing them. This just gives a bit more body to the soup
Pigtail and beef additions
Even though my recipe is vegan if you’re want to add any meat, traditionally the beef and pigtail is boiled at the beginning along with the red kidney beans.
Can I use canned kidney beans instead?
I have never made red pea soup with canned beans but you could fast track the recipe by using canned beans (make sure it’s salt free).
Just top up with 7 cups of water, cook with garlic and onions, scallion first for 15 minutes then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Soak the red kidney beans in water for several hours or overnight, rinse, then place in a large stock pot.
Add the water, scallion and onions
Add the pimento berries, thyme and the rest of the herbs and spices
Add the scotch bonnet and vegetables to the stock pot and stir
Add the coconut cream/creamed coconut to the pot along with the dumpling and rest of the seasoning, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
Red pea soup
- 2 cups of dried red kidney beans
- 9 cups of water
- 1 large sweet potato or 2 medium sized, chopped
- 2 cups worth of yam cubed (or use pumpkin instead)
- 2 medium carrots sliced and halved
- 1/2 block of coconut cream/creamed coconut or use 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 1 tsp of coriander not typically used to optional
- 2 large scallion sliced
- 1 scotch bonnet
- 6 pimento berries
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- 1/4 tsp of garlic powder
- pink salt to taste
To make the dumplings
- 2 cups of gluten free flour
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/4 tsp pink salt
- Place the red kidney beans in a medium sized bowl and fill with enough water to cover the beans.
- Allow to soak for several hours or overnight.
- Rinse the beans several times then place in a large enough stock pot with the 9 cups of water
- Add the garlic, scallion, thyme and pimento to the pot and bring to the boil
- Once boiled, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook the beans until tender (this should take 50 minutes- 1 hour)
- As the beans cook make the dumpling by adding the flour to a bowl with the pink salt, gradually pour the water into the flour and knead into a pliable dough ball.
- Take a small piece of the dough and roll into the palm of your hands to make spinners or flat into small discs, repeat with the remaining dough and set aside.
- Once the beans have tenderised, remove 1/2 cup worth of beans, mash them and add them to the pot.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the scotch bonnet, vegetables and dumpling
- Add the coconut cream and season with garlic, ginger, black pepper and optional coriander.
- Cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer for 20minutes.
- Add pink salt according to taste
- Carefully remove and discard the stems from the thyme and scotch bonnet
- Served accordingly